Slaves' Descendants Demand Reparations From Georgetown U. - NBC4 Washington

Slaves' Descendants Demand Reparations From Georgetown U.

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    Slaves' Descendants Demand Reparations From Georgetown U.

    Georgetown University owes its existence to 272 people it sold as slaves to pay off the school's debts 180 years ago. On Wednesday, a group of their descendants asked the school to pay them restitution. News4's Erika Gonzalez reports. (Published Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018)

    The descendants of slaves who helped build Georgetown University say the school still hasn't done enough to compensate the families.

    In 1838, two leaders at the university orchestrated the sale of 272 men, women and children for $115,000, or roughly $3.3 million in today's dollars, to pay off debts at the school.

    The slaves were sent from Jesuit plantations in Maryland to Louisiana, "where they labored under dreadful conditions," and families were broken up, according to a report released by the university in 2016.

    Dee Taylor still remembers the day she learned she was a direct descendant of Isaac Hawkins, one of the 272 slaves sold by the university. 

    "How in the name of Jesus could the church I grew up in commit such a hideous sin?" Taylor asked. 

    In 2016, the university formally apologized, renamed two buildings and announced that it would give preference in admissions to the descendants as part of its effort to atone for profiting from the sale of enslaved people.

    One of the building was named after Hawkins, whose name appears first in documents of the sale.

    But some descendants say that is not enough. 

    "We're open always to have discussions, but after a period of time, you would think there would be something tangible for the descendants," said Georgia Goslee, who serves as lead counsel for the group known as GU272 Isaac Hawkins Legacy.

    Goslee says a proposal was submitted to the university last summer for what the group calls "reconciliation with equity," but they never got a response.

    On Wednesday, the university said it reached out to the thousands of members of the descendant community to "propose a framework for long-term dialogue, partnership and collaboration."

    Earlier this month, News4 shared the story of one of only a handful of people who after learning they were descendants of the slaves sold, applied and was accepted to the university.